THE BLOG

Three Trends for Visual Language in 2016

22/01/2016 12:37 GMT | Updated 22/01/2017 10:12 GMT

What will evolve in our visual language in 2016? By that I mean, when we look at design and advertising around the world and the cultural pieces that influence it, what can we expect to see? By looking at the linear i.e. Getty Images' customers purchasing patterns, buying trends and search data, and then also overlaying our exploration and analysis of popular culture, we've identified three key visual trends that we predict will emerge in image use this year. We've coined them 'Outsider In', 'Divine Living' and 'Extended Human'.

By now we all should be aware that we're in the midst of the biggest revolution in how images are generated and consumed. Design and photography is changing as the world absorbs the long-term technological and cultural trends that are being driven by social media. 2016 is set to be an exciting time for imagery, as we face new complexities - for example, individuals crave luxury, but support ethical ambition, demand convenience but also support sustainability. The following three trends will reflect our changing values and aspirations.

'Outsider In'

The 'Outsider In' trend celebrates rebellion, mavericks and non-conformists. In popular culture, we have public figures re-branding themselves as rebels - Donald Trump and Jeremy Corbyn are good examples of figureheads who challenge the status quo. This desire to go against the grain is set to influence design in the year ahead, as we see people craving a unique point of view that celebrates the individual and being 'different'.

To further understand how this will play out visually we can look for instance at how traditional notions of beauty are changing. Where we are used to seeing conventionally beautiful models, we are now not only seeing the stereotype subverted but also seeing the philosophy of how beauty is used in adverts changing. An example would be Pirelli Tyres that is of course famous for showcasing women who are typically "sexy", all be it in many creative and innovative ways over the years. This year it changed approach to feature only iconoclastic women like Amy Schumer to Yoko Ono: women who are of all ages, shapes, sizes and professions.

'Divine Living'

The 'Divine Living' trend grapples with the contradictions of consumerism and a desire to do that with more mindfulness and greater spirituality. We can expect to see more visuals depicting a meditative state or one of deep contemplation.

There are examples of this type of imagery already. UBS has put together its latest ad campaign that uses photographer, Annie Leibovitz, and shows images of people in moments of repose, asking themselves questions about how to live more meaningful lives. This soul-searching and contemplation will be seen more and more this year.

We can expect to see not just introspection, but images that also show one looking outward for a deeper meaning. In 2016, we will see more visuals with a 'god's eye view' or aerial imagery of the world that gives us a transcendent experience communicating a deeper meaning.

'Extended Human'

'Extended Human' is about the increasing impact technology is having on our lives and how we perceive the world around us. It's not simply about playing with technology; it's about how it can actually enhance our senses. Technology will extend us; by optimising our bodies, expanding our capacity for memory and helping us connect. New technological advancements such as VR, led by Oculus, and wearable tech such as Apple's smart watch will continue to build our understanding of our bodies, our minds and the world around us.

In media and entertainment science fiction has often depicted technology as a threat and played on our anxieties around the dangers of robots and artificial intelligence. The 'Extended Human' is a move towards a more optimistic view of our relationship with technology and how it will provide advantages and choice. Watch brand Swatch recently created an advertisement that shows a robot wearing an analogue watch. These types of anthropomorphic depictions of robots and their new, human-like cognizance provide a more utopian view of future possibilities.

We can expect these trends to evolve across 2016 but in a way they all identify or capture the contrasts faced by modern people; the yearning for individuality, the ability to control whether we are on the outside of the mainstream but also the need to seek community and engagement for the wider social good.